Men’s basketball team drops opener to Nebraska


Bryan Bund

Junior Michael Chavers drives to the basket in the Panthers’ 80-67 win over Illinois Nov. 3 in Lantz Arena. Eastern dropped its season opener 72-68 to Nebraska Saturday.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

It took everything Nebraska had to squeak by the Eastern men’s basketball team Saturday night.

The Panthers opened their regular season on the road against Big Ten Nebraska, but the Huskers were able have shots and free throws fall in the final minutes to get past with a 72-68 win over Eastern.

Eastern played with the lead much of the first half, and for some of the second half, leading by as much as six points with 9:14 left in the game. Senior Montell Goodwin hit a three pointer, but then Nebraska started to inch its way back in front.

The Panthers’ trailed by one point, 34-33 at the end of the first half.

The Huskers took back the lead 58-57 with 4:26 left in the game off a short jump shot by Isaiah Roby in the paint. They continued to make late buckets led by Glynn Watson Jr.

Watson scored 21 points and was put to the free throw line three times by the Panthers in the final minute of the game. He was 5-for-6 over that stretch to seal the win. He was 8-of-10 for the game.

As a team, the Huskers shots 39 free throws, making 23 of them.

Eastern had five players have at least four free throws, but coach Jay Spoonhour was happy with how the combatted that.

“We had a lot of foul trouble and several different guys stepped up and helped,” he said. “I thought Bouba (Aboubacar Diallo), especially, had a big impact on the game.”

Diallo had four points, four rebounds and three blocks in 10 minutes played. He had two blocks Nov. 6 against Southern Indiana.

One of the problems Eastern had Saturday was not being able to finish down low. The Panthers went up against one of the biggest teams it had all year and Spoonhour said prior to the game that Eastern would have to really work to get good shots and make those shots.

“We got the ball under the basket late and couldn’t finish the plays off,” Spoonhour said. “We will (fix that).”

The Panthers have had three serious tests to open the 2017 season. They split their two exhibition games and immediately had to go on the road to Big Ten Nebraska to open their regular season.

It was a four-point loss, but it was a matter of not hitting shots late that the Panthers should have made.

“I think we’ll learn from out mistakes and be better,” Spoonhour said. “This was a really tough first road game and we handled ourselves pretty well overall. I was happy with how our guys competed. We put ourselves in a position to win.”

The Panthers’ next test is a Wednesday road game at Western.

If anything, Eastern is learning more about its team and having the old guys and the new guys playing together more and more against a tough schedule Spoonhour wanted to have.

That was just the first tough test of November as San Diego State and Marquette are lurking in the near future.

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]